Barton Students Making a Difference in Haiti

We made it! We finally made it to Haiti after months of planning, fundraising, and anxious worries. We made it!

To fully understand what we – 12 students and 3 adults – are experiencing, I believe it is important to understand the history and culture of Haiti. There are so many neat and inspiring stories that are in Haiti’s past. The first thing to understand is where Haiti is located. Haiti is in the West Indes, is the western third of the Island of Hispaniola, and shares an island with the Dominican Republic. Haiti was the site of the first successful slave revolt resulting in the first independent republic of a majority black population. This slave revolt occurred against the French and started in 1791 and lasted until 1804 when Haiti gained its independence.

Another important part of Haitian history is the devastating earthquake. Most people recall the massive magnitude 7.0 earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010 and killed 316,000 people and left one million people homeless. I believe it’s fair to say that no one in the group was expecting to see what we saw when we were in Port-Au-Prince. The massive amounts of people, the traffic, garbage in the rivers, and the tent-cities were jaw-dropping. Never have I seen so many people along a partially paved road walking to the market or trying to cross the street. It was hard for me to look ahead when I saw another van or motorcycle coming right for us honking to get our attention. I will never take for granted traffic in a city while in an air conditioned car after what we saw today.

After about a two hour trip to our destination, Grand Goave, we settled into our rooms in the compound. We then put our working gloves on and went out into the city. Assembly lines were formed to shovel rubble into buckets, carry buckets to the dump truck, and dump the buckets into the truck. The back breaking work has just begun for this week but we could not be more excited and happy to help. This experience has brought us all closer together and it has only been one day.

Kasey Byzewski

2012-2013 SGA President